Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Needlework Tuesday - I'm getting carried away!

Needlework Tuesday is an occasional post detailing my needlework and/or crafting projects.

I think I'm on a roll with starting and finishing projects. This week, I finished the latest project from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month.  I'm sure my gauge was off on this one.  Last week, I mentioned that the yarn was slipping quite a bit on the plastic needles.  I managed to keep all of the stitches in tact, but they were definitely more loosy-goosy that normal.  As a result, I didn't quite have enough yarn to finish it as written. That's okay because luckily I recognized that with a 2-3 rows to go and ended it early.  The project picture showed a scarf with a fringe, but I didn't like the fringe and definitely wouldn't have added it, so it's all good.  The best part is that it's big enough to wear as a small shawl!!!! Like I need another shawl. ;)  Here's the finished piece:


After that piece was complete, I started one of the shawls kits I purchased a few weeks ago at my local yarn store. This one is Clapotis from ravelry.com. The pattern is free (!!!) and the shawl is knit on the diagonal.  That's hard to see at the moment.  It can also be worn as a scarf.  Like I need another scarf.  ;)  Here's what it looks like so far:


The pattern is quite monotonous and filled with "knit through back of loop" (k tbl) stitches. I hope I haven't missed one or ten. It's a dropped stitch kind of thing, so I'm afraid if I have made a mistake somewhere, the whole thing is going to fall apart went I start the dropping part. Fingers crossed!

Last week, I mentioned that my local yarn store had a sidewalk sale with yarns 50% off. Here's what I added to my stash:


The light greenish-goldish donut balls (middle right of the photo) are my favourite.  Merino wool/silk mix. So soft, so luxurious, soooooo expensive.  Since I didn't have any idea of what I'd make with it, I grabbed all they had of that colour.   It's probably enough for several projects.  What was I thinking.

With 3 acres of yard to care for, we always have yard work that needs doing, but so far it hasn't interfered with my knitting too much. I hope that trend continues. This week coming week I'm going to continue on the Clapotis shawl.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.    If you'd done any crafting this week that you'd like to share with others, please head over to Heather's blog and use the Mr. Linky to link up your post, so others can enjoy your creations.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Needlework Tuesday - On Wednesday

Needlework Tuesday is an occasional post detailing my needlework and/or crafting projects.

This week I concentrated most of my knitting efforts into continuing the rainbow shawl (Celadon from ravelry.com.) I'm glad to report that I finished it. Yippee!!! I wasn't sure I was going to have enough yarn to continue my symmetrical pattern, but I luckily I did. Here's a shot of the finished piece:

This thing is massive compared to other shawls I've made. If I don't wrap it around myself, it goes down to my knees.  I wasn't sure if I was going to like it because it's so different from the original pattern and colouring, but it's growing on me.  Even though it's cotton, I think it's going to keep me warm on those cool spring/fall/winter nights. I still have some yarn leftover to make a small scarf, hat and/or fingerless mitts. Maybe all three!

After I finished the wrap, I worked on the May project, a "fashion" scarf, from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month. After "practicing" (as Heather would say) the first 6 rows a dozen times or so, I finally made some headway on it. Instead of trying to figure out the "selvage" stitch, I just did a slip stitch at the beginning of the right-side row. I think it's working out. Here's what it looks like so far:


The yarn isn't as bad to work with as I first thought. It's still slipping on the plastic needles, but so far I've been able to keep it under control.   I mentioned last week that I haven't worked with tape-type yarns all that much, but since this one is quite narrow and the needles are quite large (12mm), I'm not too worried about twisting the tape.  It's knitting up pretty much like any other loosely knit, bulky yarn would. That's a good thing.

I made one mistake in the piece, but instead of ripping back a number of rows, I knitted to the spot, ripped out the one stitch all the way down, fixed the problem, then knit it back up. A yarn over (yo) was involved, so it was a little more tricky than just knitting or purling. It was the first time I attempted something like this and in the end it was quite easy to do. Go me!

Even though it's a simple enough pattern, it's not that well written. Since the company is based in Germany, I think it might be a translation thing. I wouldn't recommend it for beginners.

Lastly, my local yarn store may or may not have had a continuation of their sidewalk sale....50% off! And I may or may not have spent another pile of money on some more luxurious (i.e. expensive) yarn. My husband may or may not have aided and abetted me by picking out some more sock yarn. Next week, I may or may not post some photos. ;)

This week coming week I'm going to continue to work on the scarf from Mary Maxim.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.    If you'd done any crafting this week that you'd like to share with others, please head over to Heather's blog and use the Mr. Linky to link up your post, so others can enjoy your creations.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Needlework Tuesday - Shawls Galore!

Needlework Tuesday is an occasional post detailing my needlework and/or crafting projects.

I've really only been knitting one project these past two weeks: the rainbow shawl (Celadon from ravelry.com.) I'm adding more stripes than the pattern calls for because I'm trying to use up some leftover yarn. I sort of mapped out a symmetrical pattern on paper according to how much yarn I thought I had leftover, but now I'm wishing I had included less symmetry and more randomness to the stripes.  I am close to the end on some colours, so I'll have to see what happens this week.


It's a little misshapen at the moment, but I'll fix that when I block it. I forgot to mention that this shawl is worked side-to-side rather than top down as some other shawls are. Eagle-eyed Heather picked up on that and alluded to it in the comments last week.

A new project from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month showed up this week. The project is a fashion scarf pictured on the yarn label below. I'm really on the fence about it. The yarn, Schachenmayr's Batiko Sun, is a slippery tape type yarn that I'm not used to working with. While I appreciate that the required needles (12mm, circular)  were included in the shipment, they are plastic and the yarn is slipping quite a bit on them. Had I purchased my own, I probably would have opted for bamboo/wooden ones.

Also, I've knit the first several rows a number of times, but I'm not happy with the result. For one thing, I've never heard of the "selvage" stitch and I'm finding it challenging. I think it might be a British/European thing. I Googled it and tried what they suggested, but it didn't quite work out right. I'll probably just slip the first stitch of every row and call it done. However, any suggestions or links to methods that you know work would be much appreciated.



I've decided that a girl can never have too many shawls or wraps. Since my local yarn store had a sale (15% off shawl yarn) for Mother's Day as well as a sidewalk sale with yarns 40% off, I decided that even though I'm not a Mommy I deserved a treat. Actually, I had to visit twice because there was some yardage confusion/sticker price confusion with the store-assembled kits I bought. It ended up costing me more than I expected to spend (and more than the sticker price), but it was straightened out by the helpful staff and I have enough yarn to keep me busy through the whole summer (if I have time to knit) and quite possibly fall and winter. For now, here's a shot of the yarn I purchased on the weekend:


The 5 balls of sock yarn (top of photo) were 40% off at the sidewalk sale.  I won't need it all for the shawl I have in mind, but I figured at that price my stash could use some fattening.   Also, since I haven't purchased the pattern yet, I reserve the right to change my mind and make something else. As I start work on these, I'll link to the patterns and provide better photos of the yarn.

This week I'm going to continue to work on the rainbow shawl as well as the new Mary Maxim project.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.    If you'd done any crafting this week that you'd like to share with others, please head over to Heather's blog and use the Mr. Linky to link up your post, so others can enjoy your creations.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - The Visual Dictionary by Pablo Hidalgo

Happy Star Wars Day!  May the 4th be with you.











Star Wars: The Force Awakens - The Visual Dictionary features characters, weapons, tools, and locations from the movie.

This is such an awesome book. As with other DK visual dictionaries, it's so beautifully presented. The book concentrates on the main characters (or groups of characters) and major locations. Each one is featured on a 2- or sometimes 4-page spread with tons of labelled/annotated photos and interesting and informative text . Many of the photos are large enough to really see the fine details.

Within the character and location pages, there's also information and photos of the tools, weapons and a few of the vessels from the movie. It's great that each of these is also labelled and/or explained further.

My favourite character photos are the dynamic ones. That is, the ones where they are doing something. For example: Kylo Ren's fighting pose with his plasma blade ligthsaber, and Rey with her quarterstaff in a defensive position. Both of these are so cool. Of course, sometimes it's just easier to see the details when the person is just standing there, so it's great that there's also plenty of those types of photos as well.

This book has so much information that each time I pick it up I see something I missed the first time I looked at it. I especially love that the photos with labels start on page one and continue right until the very last page.

It's fun to page through the book, but for those looking for something specific the book also has a table of contents as well as an adequate index.

By the way, I saw the movie and loved it.

Highly recommended for Star Wars fans.

For more Star Wars books from DK and for a downloadable activity kit, please see DK's website.

For more information about this book and/or a quick peek inside, please visit Amazon's website.

I'd like to thank Chris at DK Canada for this review copy.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - The Visual Dictionary by Pablo Hidalgo, Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2015. ISBN 9781465438164(Hardcover), 80p.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Needlework Tuesday - Knitting and knitting

Needlework Tuesday is an occasional post detailing my needlework and/or crafting projects.

I guess it's been about a month since I posted about my needlework/knitting projects. Since then, I've been knitting on and off and have managed to finish two projects and start another one.

The two finished projects were from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month.

1) Fair Isle Mittens

I really liked knitting these mittens. The first one was a breeze. The second one though threw me for bit of a loop. I won't go into details, but it was the whole left/right thing...the pattern written for right-handers; me, left-handed. No, I didn't end up making two left mitts, but had I not been paying attention, that was a real possibility. Anyway, they are done and ready for next winter. Here's a shot of them:



I didn't use the fair-isle technique exactly, which I believes involves holding one yarn in each hand, but I got the desired result regardless. These mittens feature another technique that makes them doubly thick throughout, except for the ribbing. The patterned part is pretty evident because both yarns are carried along with no breaks. The finger tips and thumbs, though, are knit with two balls of yarn of the same colour, alternating stitches (one stitch from one ball, the next stitch from the other) rather than holding the yarns together. It was a little tricky at first, but it didn't take long to get the hang of it.

2) Cowl made from Marble Chunky Yarn

Even though it's a really easy pattern, I managed to screw it up a couple of times by not paying attention. I didn't bother going back to make corrections because no one will notice. I'd even be hard pressed to find the errors. Here's a photo of the finished piece:



I didn't have my trusty photo assistant handy and I haven't mastered the "selfie" yet, so I wasn't able to model the cowl. Besides, it's much easier to see the colour and pretty patterning this way.

The one project I started was another shawl, Celadon from ravelry.com. I've been eyeing this one for some time and even went to the yarn store to price it out. Since those yarns were out of my budget (over $200) for a shawl, I decided to search my stash first. I had two options: the leftover yarn from the sky scarf, lace weight blues, grays, and white; or the leftovers from my temperature scarf, DK weight in rainbow colours. Since this pattern calls for sport weight yarn, I decided to use the rainbow selection since its weight was closer. It's going to be really colourful and not at all what I had in mind for this shawl, but at least I'm using up all of this leftover yarn. I might be adding in a few more stripes (maybe in varying thicknesses) to use up the colours that I have. We'll see. Here's a shot of the started project:



Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.    If you'd done any crafting this week that you'd like to share with others, please head over to Heather's blog and use the Mr. Linky to link up your post, so others can enjoy your creations.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Start Where You Are by Meera Lee Patel

Start Where You Are is a little book filled with quotes and prompts that takes the reader on a journey of self-exploration.

This book is absolutely gorgeous! It pairs inspirational quotes with writing or drawing prompts that will help readers gain a deeper understanding of their personal journeys. The watercolour work is so lovely. Even the blotchy backgrounds for the quotes are stunning.  If I didn't think it would destroy the book, I'd rip out a couple of pages for framing.

I love that the quotes used are appropriate and fit nicely with the prompts. Here's a wonderful one from Harper Lee:
Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.
The accompanying prompt:
List four times you continued to try even though the odds were against you.

Another terrific quote, this time from Arthur Ashe:
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
The accompanying prompt:
Fill these shapes with resources that can help you on your journey.

I've reviewed one other book by Patel, Daily Zen Doodles. I liked it as well.

Highly recommended. This would make a wonderful gift book for Mother's Day, birthday or graduation.

For more information about this book or to have a peek inside, please visit the Penguin Random House website.

For more information about the author and her other work, please visit Meera Lee Patel's website. There's a link to her Etsy shop, which features some of her awesome watercolours.  :)

I'd like to thank Angela at Penguin Random House for this review copy.

Start Where You Are by Meera Lee Patel, Perigee (Penguin Random House), ©2015. ISBN 9780399174827(Soft cover), 128p.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Needlework Tuesday - Still knitting, but probably not for long

Needlework Tuesday is an occasional post detailing my needlework and/or crafting projects.

We've been getting some nicer weather here in southern Manitoba, but I've still found some time to knit. It won't be long now before I'll be spending more time on yard work, though.

These past few weeks, I've been working on three projects.

This first one was one I had started a few months ago, the poncho made from alpaca yarn. Even though the pattern was really easy to follow, I wasn't happy that it was chunkier than I thought it would be and the patterning wasn't as apparent as it was in the project photo. Now that I've since finished it and have worn it a few times, it's really growing on me. Here's the finished item:



The next project I worked on was a knitted craft bag. It was the March project from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month. Here's the project photo and a few progress shots:

Bag size: 14" wide x 6" deep x 9" high.

End cables.

Side cables.  A mixture of ribbing and cables.  Two of my favourites! 

The knitting on this one was so satisfying. I adore cables and seeing them come together with this yarn was exciting. The bag is pretty much knitted as one unit.  Only 5 seams to sew: the handles, which join in the middle, and 4 side seams.  I eliminated (almost) the handle seam by doing a graft instead. It didn't turn out as smooth as it should, but it's better than a bulky seam.

Anyway, it was so much fun to do, I couldn't stop and managed to finish the project before the end of the month. The only problem I encountered was that there were four glaring errors in the pattern. Had I been less experienced with cables, I would have been totally lost and not at all pleased. Here's a shot of the finished piece:


There's an option to stiffen up the bottom so that it'll be more stable.  I just haven't found a piece of plastic/strong cardboard of suitable size yet, but that's definitely something I'm thinking of doing. I also have enough yarn leftover to put in a inner pocket for small items. Once I determine how I'm really going to use this bag, I'll have a clearer idea of what to do.

Since I was on a roll with finishing projects, I figured I'd start another one. This one was the February project from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month: Fair Isle Mittens. Here's my progress so far:


The photo shows palm pattern (stripes) on the right and the back-of-the-hand pattern (snowflake-ish) on the left.  I'll show this better in the coming weeks.  The pattern is a little confusing to follow, but I think I'm figuring it out.

That's it for this week. A new project should be coming in the mail shortly. In the meantime, I'll continue to work on my mittens.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.    If you'd done any crafting this week that you'd like to share with others, please head over to Heather's blog and use the Mr. Linky to link up your post, so others can enjoy your creations.